I Am Woman

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I Am Woman

Song lyrics

By: Helen Reddy and Ray Burton

Date: 1972

Source: Reddy, Helen. "I Am Woman," from I Don't Know How to Love Him. Capital Records, 1972.

About the Author: Helen Reddy is an Australian native who moved to the United States in 1966. She signed a contract with Capital Records in 1970 and had numerous number-one hits throughout the 1970s. She is the first Australian-born singer to have won a Grammy. In 1974, she became a U.S. citizen.


The history of the women's movement is long and expansive, and by the 1970s, pop culture connections like Betty Freidan's The Feminine Mystique and Helen Reddy's number-one song "I Am Woman" had given the movement a renewed sense of cultural awareness, action, and visibility.

Historians mark the beginnings of the women's movement in July 1848 with "The Seneca Falls Statement," written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The document, which called for equal rights and treatment of women, used the Declaration of Independence as its framework. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Clara Barton created the American Red Cross organization, bringing women's wartime contributions into the public spotlight. Women changed the culture of medicine by becoming nurses and working alongside doctors under intense and horrific conditions.

Acts of war led to calls for action within the movement. The campaign for woman suffrage began long before the First World War (1915–1918), but upon the war's completion women received the right to vote (in 1920). Additionally, world leaders like President Woodrow Wilson praised women for their wartime service in factories, nursing, and other areas. The 1960s brought the second wave of feminism into the public spotlight, and the movement took on a very public role.

Women like Gloria Steinem challenged social beliefs that feminists could not be beautiful, and public protests like the 1968 Miss America Pageant Protest forced the public to acknowledge the demands of women. Helen Reddy's song "I Am Woman" gave the movement a way to express itself through mainstream media and entertainment.

"I Am Woman" appeared on Reddy's first album; it became a number-one hit and the women's movement unofficial anthem. Reddy said that she (co)wrote the song (with Ray Burton) to portray a positive self-image for women and young girls.


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The lyrics of "I Am Woman" may not completely capture the nature, feeling, and ambiance of the women's movement, but they do represent a substantial portion of the cause. Women who fought for their liberation from social stereotypes encouraged others to celebrate themselves for who they were. In the current era, women and young girls still face conflicting notions of how they should look and act, and a variety of organizations still teach women on how to grow beyond the norms and expectations of society.

Today, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization for feminist activism in the United States, with over 500,000 members in all fifty states. NOW defines the most pressing issues facing women in the United States involve the possibility of restricted access to abortion, the continuing need for a constitutional amendment for equality, the elimination of racism towards women of color, ending violence against women, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and advocating for economic justice for women.



Buechler, Steven M. Women's Movements in the United States: Woman Suffrage, Equal Rights, and Beyond. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990.

Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1994.

Web sites

National Women's History Project. "History of the Movement" 〈http://www.legacy98.org/move-hist.html〉 (accessed April 15, 2006).